Indo-European Phonological Inventory Database

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Mycenaean Greek

Family: Hellenic

Region: Island of Creta and Greece mainland

Time: 15th - 12th B.C.


Bilabial Dental Velar Palatal Velar labialized Glottal
Voiceless stop p t k
Voiceless aspirated stop kʷʰ
Voiced stop b d g
Fricative β s h
Nasal m n
Trill r
Lateral l
Approximant j


Front Central Back
Close i iː u uː
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɛː ɔː
Open a aː


/ai/, /ei/, /oi/, /au/, /eu/, /ou/, /aːi/, /ɛːi/, /ͻːi/.


  1. There is a minimum material for the support of /b/. There is no attested word which points to a sure etymology. A word which could have attested a Mycenaean /b/ is the anthroponymy pa-pa-ro, which can be read like Βάρβαρος, Barbaros, but Πάρπαρος, Parparos, too, among other possibilities.
  2. There is no graphemic distinction between /r/ and /l/. By convention both are represented by the signs of the r-series: e-re-u-te-ro ἐλεύθερος “free”.
  3. The symbols za, ze, zo may represent syllables begining with dental or post-alveolar, voiced or voiceless affricates. These appear where we later find classical ζ /zd/ plus vowel. These signs often represent the initial sound of certain words originally begining with a *y- that did not develop to /h/. They may, however, also represent the product of the palatalization of voiced dentals and velars before /j/ + vowel, as in e-ne-wo-pe-za /ennewopedza:/, < /-pedja:/ (Horrocks 2010: 11–12). The phonetic interpretation of syllabograms za, ze, zo is problematic. Other authors such as Duhoux (2013: 22) transcribe z-series as ζ (/dz/), κσ (/ks/) or τσ (/ts/). On the other hand, the symbol *65 may represents the syllables ju and zu.
  4. The symbols pte, ta2 /tya/, ra2 /rya/ or /lya/, ro2 /ryo/ or /lyo/, represent palatalized consonants. The phonetic reality representing ra2 and ro2 signs is unclear. It is doubtful whether they represent syllables with palatalized consonants or syllables with a consonant groups + *y-. This second possibility seems more likely. (Bernabé and Luján 2006: 29–30).
  5. In Mycenaean Greek there is no sign to mark lenght vowels, but is known due to the comparison with the 1st Millenium B.C Greek. I transcribe the long vowels η and ω as /ɛː/ and /ͻː/.
  6. The phonectic interpretation of w- and j- series as /β/ and /j/ is approximated. This interpretation is based in the comparison with the 1st Millenium B.C. Greek.


Allen, W. Sidney. 1987. Vox Graeca: A Guide to pronunciation of Classical Greek. Cambridge: Cambrige University Press.
Bartoněk, A. 2003. Handbuch des mykenischen griechisch. Heidelberg: C. Winter.
Bernabé, A. and Luján, E. R. 2006. Introducción al griego micénico: gramática, selección de textos y glosario. Zaragoza: Dpto. de Ciencias de la Antigüedad de la Universidad de Zaragoza.
Duhoux, Y. 2013. Le mycénien (Paradeigmata.Recueil d’Inscriptions Grecques Dialectales I ). Nancy - París: A.D.R.A. - de Boccard.
Horrocks, G. 2010. Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers. Chichester: Wiley - Blackwell.
Risch, E. and Hajnal, I. 2006. Grammatik des mykenischen Griechisch. [online]


Ángel López Chala

Credits: apnetwork